Burma’s bicameral parliament unanimously passed an emergency proposal on Wednesday to increase the salaries of civil servants.
The formal proposal, put forward in parliament without prior announcement by upper house MP Zaw Myint Pe, urged a salary increase for civil servants, including police officers and members of the armed forces, saying their current pay is not enough to live on.
Ye Tun, a lower house member from Hsipaw in Shan State, said that inadequate salaries are fueling corruption among government workers.
“The proposal opined that inadequate salaries are causing corruption to spread among civil servants,” he said. “Soldiers, police officers and government workers are not well paid, and parliament was urged to increase their wages ahead of the budget for the next fiscal year.”
Burma’s minister of finance and the deputy minister of national planning both signaled their support for the pay rise, and also suggested raising pensions for retired civil servants, Ye Tun said.
How much the civil servant salaries will increase and the establishment of a timeline have yet to be discussed.
After ministers’ comments, House Speaker Shwe Mann offered the opportunity for any lawmaker who opposed the pay rise to raise their objections, at which point opposition National League for Democracy chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi motioned to speak.
According to Ye Tun, Suu Kyi said she told the speaker she had no objection to the proposal but wanted to point out some irregularities. New National Democracy Party Chairman Thein Nyunt did likewise. However, Shwe Mann denied them permission to address the house unless they were opposing the proposal.
In the end, the motion to increase civil servants’ salaries was passed unanimously by the legislature.
Since parliament convened under the Thein Sein government in 2011, MPs have at least twice raised motions for increasing government workers’ salaries, however only minimal pay raises were awarded.